Entitled ‘Mysteries of the Garden At Night’ Clare Waight Keller made her haute couture debut for Givenchy last night in Paris. Held in the building of the National Archives, Waight Keller explained post show that the theme of ‘Night Visions’ came to over the summer. ‘When you see things at night in garden they look so different. I love the ways the colours get saturated and dark, blacks turn bluey and even whites become brilliant as the moon goes across them. There was something about that dynamic I wanted to portray.’
This was translated into a slick collection that cleverly referenced the house’s archives but at the same time managed to avoid being overly nostalgic. Instead, Waight Keller put her own spin on what couture means in 2018. There were plenty of contrasts both in structure, think nipped in waists and razor sharp shoulders, alongside fabrics – lace, silks, feathers and even latex all appeared. This mixture of hard and soft resulted in a collection that made you really appreciate the craft of couture whilst at the same time brought the house right up to date. Add to this to the fact, that one third of the collection is in black, which makes you think of today’s red carpet dressing, although Waight Keller denies this is a result of current politics and rather something that just evolved through designing the collection.
With only a dedicated team of three people working in her couture studio, Waight Keller said she loved the ‘complete freedom’ that her first experience of couture offered her. ‘It’s an open book and you can really explore things, things I’ve never even had exposure to.’ This included some of the intricate techniques and craftsmanship, that on the runway impresses but it is only up close afterwards that you understand why customers who can buy couture do and continue to do so. Forty meters of fabric for an ombre coloured gown was hand-painted by a specialist dyer resulting in an incredible saturation and density of colours.
There was also an exploration of fabrics, with Waight Keller using tulles and interlinings to really mould her ideas. The use of latex in couture came as a surprise but a welcome one, appearing in the form a slick millennial pink skirt and wipe clean coats. Another unexpected moment was the introduction of men’s haute couture menswear with Waight Keller showing four looks including a beaded jacket and skinny leather trousers, referencing the ever-growing movement of blurring sartorial gender lines.
Clever, powerful and utterly modern – now that’s a couture debut to remember.